Reviews in the Media
for Rural Renaissance: Renewing the Quest for the Good Life
"Ivanko and Kivirist's journey from Chicago advertising careers to proprietorship of a Wisconsin B&B inspired this earnest, engaging book, which is both a manifesto for simple living and a guide for living on a small farm...along with their practical stories of successful renovation and the homespun lessons they learned, the authors provide an excellent compendium of information about green issues. 'How to' sections guide novices in such mysteries as canning, raising chickens, organic gardening and bluebird trails, while sidebars lead to Web sites, organizations and additional reading on subjects from seeds to ecotourism...if every generation needs its own back-to-the-earth creed, this work is an inspiring clarion call for today's seekers, weaving together the wisdom of earlier 'good life' advocates with a uniquely 21st-century take on living well; it may take a village to build your greenhouse, but it takes e-mail to successfully manage your b&b reservations."
- Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2004
"Are you tired of living in polluted, over-crowded cities? Do you wish you could get back to the simple life, the so-called good life? That is just what authors John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist wanted when they moved from downtown Chicago to a small farm in southwestern Wisconsin. They tell how they did it in their charming and refreshing book, Rural Renaissance. This new book is a great how-to on living a more sustainable life, and it is filled with practical information from the authors' experiences running their bed and breakfast, Inn Serendipity. Ivanko and Kivirist share everything with the reader, from recipes to how they generate power from a wind turbine and built a greenhouse out of straw bale."
"Many of us dream of dropping out of the urban rat race and living a simpler life, but few actually know how to do it. As John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist learned, simplicity is hard work. In Rural Renaissance, they chronicle their journey from big-city advertising executives to innkeepers and organic farmers, while offering practical advice on how to do it yourself ... Their insights are fascinating, and many of their solutions are surprisingly easy to implement ... Whether you're in the process of getting back to nature or still just dreaming about it, Rural Renaissance will uplift and inspire."
- Mary O. Ratcliffe for Dragonfly Review of Books, August, 2004 (printed in Common Ground, Whole Life Times, Conscious Choice, Evergreen Monthly, and Shared Vision)
"Their endearing writing style and journey captivates the romantic in all of us. Yet, the book yanks the reader to move to action, to contribute one's creative energies to the communal shifts needed to bring balance and sustainability to the world at large."
- Karen Lewis for The International Ecotourism Society, EcoCurrents, 2nd Quarter, 2005
"...one could expect the couple's guide to a simple, living-off-the-land lifestyle to be pretentious and preachy. Not so. Quirky stories about their introductions to an all-natural lifestyle are comforting for the rest of us city dwellers. Ivanko and Kivirist are careful not to discount new urbanism, which includes such ideals as rooftop gardens, housing cooperatives, bicycling to work, and shopping at national retailers like Body Shop and Whole Foods...In a world of mass-consumerism, it's refreshing to read about Inn Serendipity and the miniature utopia that Ivanko and Kivirist have wrapped around it."
- Christine Hansen for Shepherd Express, August 11, 2005
|"John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist were living the fast life in Chicago when they decided to move to Wisconsin and run a bed and breakfast ... Now they have written a book on conservation and sustainable living, Rural Renaissance, which is becoming a national sensation." |
- Channel 3000/TV 3-Madison, WI, August 18, 2004
"Make your dream a reality -- learn from their example! The best book I've read on building a simpler, more natural life. The instructions in the book are practical, everyday things that you'll need to know to build a new lifestyle. But it goes beyond the basics that you get in every other book to include community, raising children in this lifestyle, earning money while upholding your values, and much more. The best part is the "sources and resources" sections in each chapter that help you to accomplish your new goals (for instance buying from businesses that use sustainable sources or are involved in fair trade). Anyone interested in trading the 'American Dream' for a real life would find Rural Renaissance to be a valuable resource."
- Meghan Cozzens, Amazon.com Reviews, November 29, 2004
"Kivirist and Ivanko speak to the feasibility of maintaining contemporary comforts without undermining sustainable living principles. As a result, Rural Renaissance is an eclectic blend of anecdotal advice, philosophical musings on ladybugs and Buddhist (among other) teachings, and how-to pointers ... The co-authors also dispense pragmatic advice on less tangible processes such as parenting, community interdependence, and facing difficulties during the move toward a more self-sufficient future ... it's intended more as a motivational model for others searching for the same balance Ivanko and Kivirist have achieved."
- BackHome Magazine, August, 2004
"Bye-Bye corporate Life...Kivirist says the biggest reward of chucking the climb up the corporate ladder and working independently is that she doesn't have to outsource the raising of her son...After reading about the latest round of layoffs or hearing about buyouts from friends who stayed in advertising, it's clear that life in the corporate world isn't a fuzzy security blanket. And there's a big difference: As an entrepreneur, you're in control of your future."
- Scott Reeves for Forbes.com, July 25, 2005
"Rural Renaissance primarily serves as a practical how-to manual for other urbanites interested in embarking on their own rural odysseys...One aspect of Rural Renaissance that a reader isn't as likely to find in other how-to sustainable living manuals, however, is the emphasis on parenting, developing a strong sense of community, and preparing for the financial challenges of country living. The co-authors include a pie chart of their diversified, income-producing work with the aim of helping potential back-to-the-landers understand new definitions of wealth geared towards quality of life over income...There is much to be learned from the Ivanko and Kivirist's anecdotal advice, and the resource lists all lead to a wealth of carefully chosen texts."
- Joshua Anchors for Rodale Institute's New Farm, September, 2005
"Today, the War in Iraq, the threat of terrorism, skepticism about the safety of the food we eat, precarious economic times, and a culture longing to build strong emotional relationships between parents and children could be driving a renaissance in books about rural living. 'Our quest for the good life entails more than a rural zip code...' write John Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist in Rural Renaissance...Helen or Scott Nearing could have written those words back in the late 1960s while working on their first book. But they were written in a book just published...by a couple with ideas they believe in and didn't want to 'leave on the shelf.'"
- Mardi Link, ForeWord Magazine, August 4, 2004
"In their adventure they learn to make jam; they replant trees to restore their land; they learn how to reduce their use of energy and then start using the sun and wind to generate their own power; they remake their lives and house from a greening viewpoint to minimize their ecological footprint;they learn to grow their own vegetables and raise happy chickens, to consume less water, to compost their wastes, to support the local economy, to live in, and care for, their community."
- Delores Broten for Watershed Sentinel, British Columbia, Canada, July/August, 2004
"Rural Renaissance is much more than a story about a city couple who move to the country. The book is full of boxed information offering the reader "Sources and Resources" for achieving what they have ... The couple admits to making and enjoying granola and to not watching much on their old television, but they insist that they are not trying to convert the rest of the world to their way of living. They're just trying to live life the way they want to ... Rural Renaissance is a fascinating book to read, just for the story of Ivanko, Kivirist and their son, as well as a great resource for anyone interested in making a few life changes."
- Carla KcKeown, Breckenridge American, June 19, 2004
"Century of the small business ... [The co-authors'] own bed & breakfast enterprise -- Inn Serendipity in Browntown, Wisconsin -- was featured in an In Business report in Summer, 2001 ... Blending lots of inspiration with practical how-to tips, Rural Renaissance focuses on the American dream of country living for contemporary times ... The book helped launch the Rural Renaissance Network to provide practical resources and examples of real-world transitioning."
"Wonderful guide for lifestyle change. These folks actually did what many of us dream of and re-built their lifestyle based on their own personal beliefs. There are plenty of do-able plans for people reading the book to follow to make their own lives more in sync with the needs of the planet without going to the extremes of buying a farm in the country and jumping into the lifestyle headfirst."
- YankeeChick, Amazon.com Reviews, March 16, 2005
"Rural Renaissance has at its core some meat. The country--small farm as well as rural properties--offer people a chance to (take your pick) be partially self-suffient, work from home, raise kids in a safe, healthy setting...What's more, the authors suggest the route to rural self-renewal may not be through the offices of any farm organization, or sponsored government programs, but rather through conscious effort to live responsibly. Buy from your neighbor not a box store. Be happier with less. The seeds of a revived rural economy may have been in our jean pockets all along."
- Tom Henry, Canada Small Farm, Fall, 2004
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